Liquid calories: Your worst enemy

For most people calories are thought of in solid forms via meat and potatoes, fruits and vegetables and cake and ice cream. But if you’re not careful, the liquids you drink each day can add hundreds of extra calories to your daily diet without you ever knowing it. One hundred calories a day might not seem like much but 100 calories x 365 days = 36,500 calories (that’s 11lbs of pure fat a year right there).

Which drinks should you be wary of during your daily grind?

Soda

One of the easiest ways to pile unwanted calories on is through soda of any sort. And while you may think that a diet soda is better for you (it does have fewer calories), many diet soda drinkers wind up drinking more soda as a result. Do yourself a favour by skipping soda and opting for water instead (add some lime or lemon for flavour).

Fancy coffees

Yes, they taste delicious and give your energy an instant boost, but that large café latte made with whole milk is also sending 265 calories of fat and sugar directly to your belly. Chop the calories in half by downsizing your drink and making it a skinny, which is made with fat-free milk.

Sports drinks

You work out pretty hard and are convinced that you need a sports drink to replenish everything your body loses as you exercise. Unfortunately, your conviction is nothing more than a response to good advertising. Unless you’re exercising hard and heavy for 90 minutes or more, your sports drink is leaving you with many more calories than you burned during your routine. Keep your body hydrated the old-fashioned way — with water.

Sweet tea

Though you may consider it the healthy alterative to soda, sweet tea packs nearly 200 calories in a meager 16-ounce bottle. Unless you’re a professional body builder and have an extra thousand calories to use up every day, drinking sweet tea chops out a big portion of your daily calorie allotment without giving you much benefit.

Store bought smoothies

Quite possibly the best food marketing campaigns out there come from smoothie companies. They market their ‘healthy’ smoothies as an alternative to sugar sodas or milkshakes, but wait one second. Sure they can be extremely healthy but be careful and cautious when making your selections. Some smoothies with eight servings of fruit, yogurt, protein powder and other ingredients can have average out to a sky high 1,000 calories or more. Keep it simple and light.

Alcohol

Whether you prefer beer or pina coladas, all things alcohol come with a calorie count that can easily be overlooked (each gram of alcohol has seven calories). To keep these calories to a minimum, watch the amount of alcohol you consume. Also, choose light beer, a small margarita, and the proper amount of wine instead of the excessive amount provided at many restaurants.

In addition to what you drink, how you drink and what you combine with your drink can all add up to extra unwanted calories. With a few easy steps you can sidestep hundreds of calories.

Prepare properly. Certain drinks work well with certain foods. Unfortunately, soda and alcohol often taste best with greasy, unhealthy foods. Instead of falling prey to such figure-killing choices, have healthy alternatives readily available and train yourself to choose healthy foods in those situations.

Go slow. If you’re prone to drink three or four glasses of soda at a restaurant or don’t shy away from multiple drinks at the bar, you can slow down your caloric intake by breaking between each fill. When your glass is nearly empty, ask for a glass of water and don’t drink anything else until your water is gone.

Be the designated driver. Have friends who enjoy getting a little rowdy at the local bar? Save yourself from joining in their calorie-rich alcoholic fun by being the designated driver. You keep your friends safe and get to hang out without worrying about adding to your calorie count.

Jack Wheeler is a personal trainer and owner of 360 Fitness in Red Deer. He can be reached at 403-347-1707 or check out www.360fitness.ca for more information.

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